The Faces of Child Labor in Nablus

Khamees Abu Saad is a student at An-Najah University and a long-time volunteer at TYO. Khamees is also a grantee of a PhotoPhilanthropy Student Production Grant, a student-non-profit collaboration where storytelling is advanced through visual imagery. As a volunteer in photography classes, Khamees has formed a strong relationship with TYO and has become passionate about non-governmental organizations and their ability to change lives. Through this grant, Khamees has been documenting the lives of five children in Palestine who must forgo schooling in order to work and support their families. Photos of homes, schools, and workplaces have captured the harmful relationship between child labor and education. Students are spending all of their free time working instead of studying, or spending no time in school at all.  Let's meet his subjects - two boys and one group of children - who have been working in Nablus.

Ahmad Shobaki

Ahmad is from Old Askar Refugee Camp and is 13 years old.

Ahmad collects electronic waste from the trash dumps outside of his refugee camp in Northern Nablus. Once he's picked through the trash, he burns his findings to extract the metal and to strip the plastic from the cords. Then Ahmad takes his scrap metal and sells it  around his camp to be reused. Typically, he makes 10-20 shekels per day or $2.50 - $5.50 per day. Ahmad has been working for the past two years and as the eldest child in his family, has been helping his father make ends meet. Ahmad still attends school at his camp, but his poor grades have left him feeling that attending school is useless. Thus, his focus has become making money, not studying, and hurries to the dumps straight after school.

Smaeel Abu Zeitoon

Smaeel is from Balata Refugee Camp and is 14 years old.

Smaeel works downtown at the city center in Nablus, selling socks. Smaeel is still in school, but doesn't consider it a place for learning. He stopped paying attention in classes and keeps going to socialize and to meet with friends. He works after school to support his parents and their large family and also to make spending money for himself. Smaeel believe that working will get him farther in life than an education, and the sooner he starts, the better. Sometimes he spends his money on food or small gifts for himself, but typically, he uses his money to buy more socks. Prior to selling socks, Smaeel worked as a car-washer, washing taxis to make small change. His current job however, is still unstable - some days he makes no money at all, other days, he makes up to $25.00.

Boys at the City Center

Child labor can be seen all over Nablus, but everyday, a group of 3-10 boys, ages 8-13, sell various items downtown at the city center. The boys, who come from Khallet al-Amood, the Old City and El Ein Refugee Camp, work to support their families. They sell anything they can get their hands on - from Qurans to sponges, and from batteries to artwork - all at flexible, donation-style prices. Sometimes they sell a Quran for a single shekel, other times, for 20. And they work at all hours of the day, including school hours. School is hardly a point of concern for these boys. When asked why they work, the boys respond, "because we're men now." And when asked why they're not in school during school hours, they respond, "this is the best time to make sales because there's a high amount of customers shopping."

Stay tuned to the TYO Blog to learn more about Khamees' project with PhotoPhilanthropy.